Friday 23 October 2015

Top 10 Songs Chosen By John Youens (Slow Faction)

  A few months ago I posted a song called Little England which appears on the excellent album The Brixton Tapes. Released towards the end of 2014 by London band Slow Faction it's definitely worth checking out :

"Slow Faction is a 1st generation-influenced punk band with a real London 77 sound. The aim of Slow Faction is simple – to make the music they want to hear; politically-charged songs with big hooks and choruses, reminiscent of the 1st wave of British punk. Slow Faction’s live sound has been described as a cross between The Clash and The Buzzcocks."

  Today I'm bringing you the latest in a series of popular top 10 lists, this one is by John Youens who is guitarist and vocalist for the band and who also helps to put on gigs as part of the South London Punk Collective. If you're interested in learning more about this diy collective check out their facebook group : 

  John's top 10 contains a number of classics that you'll probably be familiar with, he also adds comments (which is always a nice bonus). Thanks John, over to you.....

Thanks very much for inviting me to list my top 10. I could have filled the list with songs from just 1 or 2 groups but have decided to list 10 favourite songs from 10 different groups who have influenced me on the way.
1. The Clash: Complete Control
On any other day this could be White Man in Hammersmith Palais, Garageland, Stay Free or countless others but today it’s Complete Control – once described as a band bitching about their record label and turning out one of the biggest 2 fingers to capitalism ever made…love the single version but find myself increasingly turning to the live version on From Here To Eternity…

2. The Sex Pistols: God Save The Queen
Possibly the greatest ever 3 minute pop song committed to vinyl…this has all the ingredients which made The Sex Pistols (at their best and on form) absolutely unstoppable. I saw one of the reunion shows at Brixton Academy in 2007. I was very sceptical about going in the first place but to hear THOSE songs played by the original Pistols was magical.

3. Stiff Little Fingers: Suspect Device
SLF was the first punk band I saw live at Malvern Winter Gardens in 1979. This was at the time of Inflammable Material and the whole concert was a riot from start to finish. Jake and Ali were skinny, good looking and sharply dressed – looking and sounding like the best rock n roll should. Unfortunately, for me, this was SLF at their peak. I was disappointed by the songs and production of Nobody’s Heroes…it just didn’t spit out of the speakers like IM did when you put the needle down.

4. The Stranglers: (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
The Stranglers seem to get written out of punk history or at least not credited amongst the forerunners but they were hugely influential and at my school there seemed to be as many Strangler badges on uniforms as Clash or Pistols ones. Rattus Norvegicus was the first album I ever bought and I spent hours listening to it and staring at the cover, which was an unnerving one to say the least. Of the early singles, Grip has to be my favourite.

5. The Jam: Going Underground
I have a strange relationship with The Jam. Although All Mod Cons is considered a classic I don’t think it has aged as well as other punk albums of the time and The Jam always seemed to be lacking a bit of humour and a sense of mischief that other bands had. However, as a singles band I think their output is superlative and Going Underground probably the best of them.

6. The Ruts: Something That I Said
THE great lost punk band. They had everything – great lyrics, a great frontman, brilliant musicians and intelligent songs. After The Clash had gone down the drugs & world music route and lesser talents had discovered the delights of unlistenable hard core, The Ruts had the talent & ambition to take punk in a new and more interesting direction into the 1980s. Unfortunately, Malcolm Owen’s tragic death changed all that.

7. The Congos: Children Crying
Punk and reggae go hand in hand for anybody of my generation and for me, it’s roots above all which I love. From reading and trying different samplers I explored the music of The Abyssinians, Culture, Israel Vibrations, The Gladiators, The Mighty Diamonds, etc but it’s always The Heart of the Congos which I come back to. The Lee Perry heavy lo-fi analogue tape production actually enhances the vibes you get when listening to this and Children Crying is one hell of a beautiful song

8. Manic Street Preachers: Motorcycle Emptiness
I have very little music in my collection from 1982 through to 1990. Throughout this period I hated the politics, I hated the football and I hated the horrible, overproduced rubbish music – have you ever noticed how dated 1980s music sounds with all those heavily reverbed drums? Anyway, this was the period I just went into Inner Emigration and smoked dope everyday…but as we left the 80s and entered the 90s, even though it wasn’t my music, you could sense that with the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays something was beginning to stir again…then came these beautiful Welsh boys offering to save/destroy rock n roll and split up after one album…rock n roll should look good and sound good and the early Manics achieved this in spades.

9. Rancid: Ruby Soho
I just love Rancid. All their albums are slightly different and I go through phases of listening to each of them in turn. I think Tim Armstrong is a punk renaissance man and a great, characterful and story-telling lyricist. As with The Clash I have different favourite songs on different days but Ruby Soho, with all it’s obvious, classic punk influences (and lifts) will do for today.

10. Green Day: American Idiot
Apart from a couple of exceptions, I don’t like what is characterised as Pop Punk…I was watching a top 50 pop punk collection on E4 Music the other day and it was depressing…every song sounded the same and every video looked the same…it was music for beer-swilling boneheads and was as appealing to me as a Nuremberg Rally… Now, I’m not saying that was my earlier impression of Green Day but I do remember buying Dookie and Nimrod to check them out and feeling decidedly underwhelmed…All that changed with the album American Idiot which is to me a brave and courageous album, a concept album to boot, and filled with self-righteous anger which for me is the hallmark of punk…American Idiot the song captures all of that self-righteousness in a classic 3 minute pop record.

Anyway, that will do for a Top 10…no Ramones, or Buzzcocks, or Rezillos…or countless other bands…away from punk I love early Elvis, Eddie Cochrane, the Brian Jones era Stones and classic Soul but that’s for another day and another list…

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